The outlook for 2021 is mixed as uncertainties remain owing to the new COVID-19 strain but some Southeast Asian countries are expected to rebound.


Malaysia is among the Southeast Asian countries that suffered economic downturns this year, but some economy experts believe the country will make a comeback in 2021.

Asia Pacific Investment Bank's chief Chris Wang said Malaysia's growth rate could expand by 6.6% next year, as domestic consumption starts to recover.

Among the local industries that are expected to see an increase in demand are transport, manufacturing and automobiles.

While information technology segments are predicted to continue growing in 2021, tourism, airline services, and the retail sector are expected to continue struggling as demand remains limited.

Wang said investment opportunities should help propel Malaysia to better economic status in the coming year. On the other hand, Wang said COVID-19 restrictions could still play a role in hampering expectations.


Singapore's tourism suffered tremendously in 2020 due to extended bans on foreign entry. Despite the devastating effect on the local economy some analysts are predicting growth for the city.

Maybank forecast Singapore's real growth domestic product to expand by 4.5% next year, as travels pick up and investments recover.

Senior economist at Maybank, Chua Hak Bin, said easing anti-coronavirus restrictions should help drive domestic spending and, in turn, could help boost the economy.

However, Chua said recovery may only be felt by the fourth quarter of 2021, when vaccines are more widely available to Southeast Asia.


Vietnam has been the crown jewel of Southeast Asia since the pandemic started as analysts and investors bet on the developing country's quick action when news of COVID-19 emerged.

Unlike other countries in the region, Vietnam was able to contain the spread of the virus early on. S&P Global projected the Vietnam economy to grow 10.9% next year.

Vietnam logged real economic growth of 2.91% this year, indicating high potential for recovery in 2021.

In Nikkei's compilation of the International Monetary Fund's real gross domestic product projections that wherein 2019 figures were set as the baseline of 100, Vietnam led the pack with a projected growth index of 108.4.

While the country has had struggles with world trade restrictions and other anti-coronavirus regulations outside Southeast Asia, it posted growth of 4.48% in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Economic experts said growth in the fourth quarter was driven primarily by manufacturing segments picking up activity, as well as an apparent shift in global production activities toward the country.

Last week, the World Bank forecast Vietnam's economy to expand by up to 6.5% in 2021 as vaccine distribution raises hopes in global markets.